Coke, SAP co-develop bottling app

Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. has announced a multiyear deal with SAP AG to co-develop a beverage-specific application designed to improve its ability to serve customers in the field, slash costs and share data through multiple systems.

The system will be built around SAP’s ERP and CRM applications as well as its NetWeaver integration middleware to enable mobile connectivity. It’s aimed at helping consumer products companies improve the logistics of store deliveries and vending machine maintenance, said SAP.

“This should improve market execution, and the consumer will experience better service,” said Margaret Carton, CIO at Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. “This will give us a more integrated system that hopefully will give us more information at the store level and account level, and we’ll be able to more effectively manage the business on the street.”

Coca-Cola is currently running a mix of ERP and supply chain management applications, including SAP’s R/3 production planning applications. What has been missing, said Carton, was the ability to connect direct store delivery capabilities to its ERP backbone.

For example, the field merchandiser who fills orders at a store will be able to use a wireless device to get alerts if an emergency arises that requires a change of route. Currently, only some employees have wireless access, she said.

SAP plans to offer the first product for sale early next year. Carton said Coca-Cola isn’t concerned about the package being used by its competitors. If the company needs a proprietary process for competitive advantage, “we always have the ability to develop it ourselves or have SAP develop it exclusively for us,” she said. Carton declined to say how much money Coca-Cola is investing in the project.

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